Clinton Admits He Passed on Killing Bin Laden

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


clintonIn a memorably explosive 2006 interview with Chris Wallace, former President Bill Clinton went off on a finger-wagging “tear,” as Wallace put it, when questioned about whether he had done enough during his terms in office to get Osama bin Laden. “I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since,” growled a furious Clinton. Now a recently-released audiotape confirms that Clinton did indeed have at least one clear opportunity to kill the world’s most wanted man in 1998 – and passed on it, allowing bin Laden to live to mastermind the 9/11 attacks.

Last week Australian Michael Kroger, the former head of the Liberal Party in the state of Victoria, unveiled on Australia’s Sky News a never-before-released audio of Clinton speaking to a group of businessmen in Melbourne on September 10, 2001, recorded a mere ten hours before the first plane hit the World Trade Center. In that recording, made with the former president’s knowledge according to Kroger, Clinton responded thusly in response to a question about international terrorism:

And I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden — he’s a very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him — and I nearly got him once. I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.

Questioned by Fox News about the Clinton recording, Michael Scheuer, chief of the bin Laden unit from 1995 to 1999, replied that Clinton was a “disgrace” and a “monumental liar” for claiming that he didn’t kill bin Laden because of the collateral damage. He asserted that only Taliban and bin Laden and his crew would’ve died if Clinton had given the go-ahead for a missile strike on the region in December of 1998. But Clinton didn’t act, said Scheuer, because he’s a “coward morally” and because he’s “more concerned, like Obama, with what the world thinks about him.”

In the 2006 Wallace interview, Clinton referenced a wildly controversial ABC miniseries called The Path to 9/11*, which had aired a mere two weeks earlier and which Clinton angrily called part of a right-wing “disinformation” campaign against him. That docudrama, based in part on The 9/11 Commission Report, dramatized the historical thread connecting the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Islamic attacks on American interests throughout the Clinton era, the failure to connect the dots under Bush, and the attacks of that September morning in 2001.

Prior to its premiere, a false accusation of “conservative bias” on the part of the filmmakers quickly spun into leftist hysteria that the $30+ million miniseries was a “well-honed propaganda operation” on the part of a stealth cabal of conservatives. Clinton and his supporters, fearing the miniseries would tarnish his political legacy, claimed it was full of lies and pulled out all the stops to suppress it, including threats by the Senate Democratic leadership, led by Harry Reid, to pull ABC’s license if the miniseries aired. With a few very minor edits, the miniseries squeaked by and went on to high ratings; but it has not aired since and ABC-Disney refuses to release a DVD [check out John Ziegler’s riveting documentary Blocking the Path to 9/11 for the whole outrageous story].

The miniseries featured one particular scene vetted, as every scene was, by a battery of ABC lawyers, in which a CIA team and its Afghan allies have bin Laden in its sights, call the White House for approval to make the hit, and are denied the green light. Clinton and his people attacked this scene as an outrageous fabrication.

But in May 2012, CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcast a startling segment featuring former CIA officer Hank Crumpton, Deputy Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, who discussed with interviewer Lara Logan his participation in operations to capture and/or kill bin Laden well before 9/11. Crumpton complained about “the lack of response on the part of the administration” and described one incident in which his team sighted bin Laden. It sounds very similar to the dramatized scene from Path to 9/11:

Crumpton: Our human sources took us to a village uh, far, not far from Kandahar –

Logan: And what did you see there?

Crumpton: We saw a security detail, a convoy, and we saw bin Laden exit the vehicle.

Logan: Clearly.

Crumpton: Clearly. And we had – the optics were spot on, beaming back to us, CIA headquarters. We immediately alerted the White House, and the Clinton administration’s response was, “Well, it will take several hours for the TLAMs, the cruise missiles launched from submarines, to reach that objective. So you need to tell us where bin Laden will be five or six hours from now.” The frustration was enormous.

Logan: So at that moment you wanted to kill him.

Crumpton: Yes.

Logan: But you couldn’t get permission.

Crumpton: Correct.

Logan then narrates that Crumpton “couldn’t get permission to do anything, including allowing the CIA’s Afghan agents on the ground to attack bin Laden’s compound.”

Now the Clinton admission serves as further vindication for the Path to 9/11’s veracity; in fact, Scheuer also stated, as he has on numerous previous occasions, that the Clinton administration passed on as many as ten opportunities to nail bin Laden.

Imagine how different the world would be if President Clinton had pulled the trigger on bin Laden in 1998. There would have been no 9/11, says Michael Scheuer, and probably no Iraq war. “I worked hard to try to kill him,” Clinton insisted in the Wallace interview. “I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since.” But when he could have, he didn’t. Even if it truly was out of concern for Kandahari civilians, this question posed rhetorically by Scheuer cuts to the heart of the matter: “Who was he elected to protect, Kandaharis or Americans?”

* Full disclosure: The Path to 9/11 was written and produced by my friend Cyrus Nowrasteh, whom I assisted on the project.

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  • DaCoachK

    This narcissistic imbecile simply won’t leave stage. Clinton is disgraceful. Even with this bad light shone upon him, he relishes in it; it is attention.

    • Crassus

      Clinton kind of reminds me of the scene in “Ed Wood” where Bela Lugosi checks into rehab and is talking to a group of reporters. He relishes the whole thing because he’s back in the spotlight again.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    The problem isn’t just Clinton, although he is a coward. If 9/11 was prevented Clinton’s actions in taking out bin Laden would have been called an atrocity. This happens today. Obama’s drone attacks in Pakistan are called “war crimes” because they have collateral damage but most Americans shrug. We know we are killing those that will kill us because they did kill 3000 on 9/11. Let’s remember that Clinton got flack for his attack on an aspirin factory in the Sudan. Look at the criticism Israel gets today for the collateral damage in Gaza.

    The left hovers over our leaders like vultures. As soon as we were safe from al Qaeda, they swoop down and vilify our government for using “torture.” A photo of one private “finger shooting” a man’s private parts in Iraq leads the New York Times to run front page articles on alleged atrocities for 45 days straight.

    I’m no Clinton defender but he is as much a victim of the leftist hate-America culture as Bush was. Yes, he should have taken a rhetorical bullet and taken out bin Laden. But that’s easier to say after 9/11. We have a culture to change and its far worse than Clinton … as Obama proves.

    • Pete

      It is the culture. Part of it is the meme of proportionate response. One sides casualties are supposed to be in or equal with another sides casualties.

      Another part of the sickness is to not assassinate heads of state, because we all know it is so much noble to sen 18 top 24 year olds out there to fight and die en masse.

      That is sick.

      It should not be our to response to always consider assassination with any little disagreement, but to take it off the table totally is wrong.

      A person could make a case that it would be wrong to assassinate Usama bib Laden becayse if he had his way he would create a state and thus he could be a future head of state.

      Look at Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. One day he is a terror leader and the next day he is also the head of a state. That state has lasted 2 months now. I do not expect it last over a year or two, but what do I know. I did not expect it to last more than 2 to 4 months. I figured the Iranians would have cleaned up by now. The question is if the ISIS state last several years and/or is recognized by one or more nations, would it be legal to assassinate Abu Bakr according to American law or liberal interpretation of American law?

      Is the U.S. at war with ISIS? They split from Al QAEDA, so are we at war with them? I would say yes. They differ on methods to a degree and also on strategy, but not on end goals. I am not sure we are still at war with Al Qaeda. A few drone attacks are a dilletante effort and the left wrings their hand and apologizes for them.

    • truebearing

      You make some excellent points about the nature of our national problem. Clinton, like any president, was subject to the pseudo-moral tyrrany of the Left, but he was more than willing to go along with that tyrrany.

      What the Left has succeeded in doing is creating a cultural conscience based on the false morality of political correctness. The Marxist Cultural conscience is the arbiter of what is just, or humane, or proportionate. It is the operating system for the UN as well, which we see vividly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This false conscience is a form of centralized political morality that is designed to override an individual or nation’s survival instincts. It is used as a dialectical process for incrementally gaining more and more control over the thought process of the leaders of not only this nation, but all nations. It is why the UN never seems to resolve conflicts, but steps in just in time to keep them alive. If conflicts were solved naturally, by a clearly superior military, the need for the UN diminishes and the Left loses power as the central arbiter…the cutural conscience is exposed as counter-productive.

      Look at how the Left caterwhauled over the concept of pre-emptive attacks on our enemies — Bin Laden being a perfect example. Premption is dangerous to them because it pre-empts them from exercising control of a given conflict. Control is power. Better to let the Bin Ladens of the world flourish than allow the cultural conscience to be bypassed, regardless the cost in lives. Life means nothing to the Cultural Conscience.

      • Americana

        Who would’ve caterwauled over Osama bin Laden being taken out after the African U.S. Embassy bombings and the attack on the U.S. Cole? Nobody. A terrorist who’s been identified as being responsible for terrorist attacks deserves very little additional confirmation of his connection to the attacks and, in bin Laden’s case, he ADMITTED his complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Osama bin Laden’s manifesto was basically as good as any testimony provided in court for me.

        The U.N. seldom eliminates or quells conflicts because conflicts are often deeply rooted in the sociology of a region. The U.N. doesn’t purposely maintain conflicts at a particular level and turns them off and on in order to play political games.

        • truebearing

          “Who would’ve caterwauled over Osama bin Laden being taken out after the African U.S. Embassy bombings and the attack on the U.S. Cole?”

          The Left and the Islamists they enable. They would have done what they always do: find or make up some civilian casualties so the attack can be characterized as a war crime or a violation of something. They would have puked out the usual leftist false equivalencies…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and so on.

          Hamas has been identified as a terror group, yet Leftists all over the world are defending them, as is the UN.

          The UN seldom eliminates conflicts because eliminating conflicts isn’t their primary goal. Even if it was their true intent, they stink at it. If they were a private company selling conflict resolution as a service, they would have gone bankrupt years ago.

          The UN butts into conflicts and extends their duration indefinitely. If they were honest, they would simoly allow Israel to annhilate the Hamas terrorists, for instance. Instead, they set up well funded organisations that Hama is allowed to use to further their genocidal agenda, with a nod and a wink from the UN. The UNRWA is a textbook example. They build schools that Hamas uses to teach children to become genocidal, and to store rockets. When discovered, the UN gives them back to Hamas, in a clear violation of international law.

          Don’t try to tell me the the UN doesn’t play political games with international conflicts. The UN is run by transnationalists, and that is all transnationalists do.

          • Americana

            I know how people I know felt about Osama bin Laden and they were very happy to see his death was accomplished. If the U.N. plays political games, they’re pretty toothless games and Israel certainly continues to go about her business and is hardly ever seriously affected in any significant way by U.N. actions. This is not at all like what happens w/the Palestinians and the blockades Israel imposes on Gaza. As for the U.N. playing games w/international conflicts, no, that’s not what the U.N. does. Not because it’s not a transnational organization but because it’s an organization of national interests that usually conflict in certain ways. The U.N. fails at eliminating conflicts because they’re so deeply rooted or they’re in inaccessible parts of the world where traditional Western military tactics don’t achieve diddly squat. The only effective transnationals I know of are the MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS. Now they’re transnationals that pack a punch…

    • Erudite Mavin

      It wasn’t just general knowledge about UBL’s radical background but Clinton unconcerned about UBL’s bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 killing and wounding many Americans,

      Bombing U.S. barracks and embassy in Africa and bombing the USS Cole killing several American Naval personal.

      Among many books on this subject

      Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror

      By Richard Miniter

      http://www.amazon.com/Losing-Bin-Laden-Clintons-Unleashed/dp/0895260484

      • iWildwood

        And so went Obama to secure for Osama a martyr’s honorable burial at sea. Or so it seems to me.

    • Americana

      Killing Osama bin Laden wouldn’t have stopped anything from happening. That’s the trouble w/these jihadists, they are all as committed as Osama bin Laden. Besides, Ayman al Zawahiri was not going to be taken out by the same strike and he would have been sure to have the 9/11 jihadist teams follow through on their execution of the 9/11 plan if bin Laden had been killed. In fact, that might have given even a different veneer of justification for the 9/11 strikes.

      • truebearing

        The Sudan offered to capture and turn over to the US the entire Al Qaeda leadership, including Bin Laden. They made the offer repeatedly. Clinton turned them down, repeatedly.

        Your argument assumes that leadership doesn’t count in a war. If that was true, why did so many battles throughout history end when the leader of one side was killed? Why do warring parties see leaders as high value targets? If H itler would have been killed early in the rise of N azism, the cause would have splintered and the ensuing power struggle would have doomed it to eventual obscurity, or at best, one of many players in German politics.

        • Americana

          Leadership folks are always high-value targets because you never know how much you’ll inconvenience such a terrorist organization by taking out the leadership. But just as has been shown by any high achieving terrorist organization, if there are enough semi-trained jihadists waiting in the wings, deaths in the hierarchy usually only provide a temporary reduction in their plans and their overall organizational efficiency.

          Likening what happened historically in war to what is happening w/this particular jihad movement is foolish. These guys are looking at the long game, according to you and everyone else like ObamaYoMama, and the next person to be selected will step forward. The only reason there have been historical figures upon whose shoulders the success of their forces rests is their strength of will and the force of their character and their grandiosity of vision. Look at Alexander The Great for a perfect example of the implosion of Greek resolve to continue advancing and conquering after Alexander’s death. Not only is the jihad a totally different kind of transnational conflict, it has a religious basis that Alexander and most other conquerors have not had at their service w/which to continue to stoke their troops’ resolve and fighting psychology.

  • bob e

    these people don’t care about anything other than themselves..
    we cant do any worse .. clinton, bush, barry o’fraud ..the leftist
    will just keep going until there is no more. i’m giving it 10 years ..

  • CarlMM

    Imagine if a WMD hit NYC or DC with Clinton, Obama, or any Democrat as President. They wouldn’t retaliate because “we’ll kill innocent women and children and I don’t want to be just like them.”
    So, Israel too is on their own if they are hit with a nuke.

  • El Cid

    More to the point, Clinton didn’t make Bin Laden “an issue” because he felt there was no political capital to be gained. He never did anything for the “good of it”. Not his style.

    We are also ignoring Reagan’s responsibility in helping Bin Laden to power in the first place when he was sparring with Russia in Afghanistan.

    We need to think deeply about what went wrong here. We are all responsible for the mistakes. Let’s learn from it.

  • sasdigger

    President Clinton was aware of all the warning signs to 9-11—The attack of the first tower, the attacks on both embassies, and the attack on the USS Cole.
    It exactly mirrors all the clear and present danger warnings in Benghazi—the attacks on other Embassies, terrorists moving in next door to the US Consulate in Benghazi, terrorist explosive attacks on ambulance, letter written by US Ambassador to the US State Department begging for security assistance.
    Like husband Bill—ALL warning signs–Ignored.
    The assassination of our US Ambassador to Benghazi and those other heroes that fought to save Ambassador’s life despite being ordered not to help.
    As an American that has been under attack abroad where security was tight—Mrs. Clinton knows it was her top responsibility to ensure security at US facilities abroad.
    Anyone that continues to believe the Clinton BS despite all the clear warnings are either blind, morally corrupt, deaf, or ideological left-wingers bereft of a conscience only interested in the destruction of the United States of America.

    • Americana

      Unfortunately for our embassies, we don’t have sufficient forces at all embassies to repel all the possible scenarios that might be used against them. Despite all the “clear and present dangers” directed at Benghazi and all the other embassies that week, the U.S. had chosen a status of forces defensive spread that couldn’t be activated in time to help those in Benghazi. You must be unaware, for some reason, of the total number of attacks on American diplomatic facilities that occurred that month. Perhaps hieronymous will post that list for you so you can let us know how you would have distributed U.S. forces so all the embassies and consulates and CIA safe houses survived without casualties. I am not blind, I’m not deaf and I certainly am not interested in the destruction of the United States of America but we look like FOOLS when we try to pretend we can always guarantee we can fly people from hours away to the site of a full-on attack and always arrive in time like the U.S. cavalry.

  • Gregoryno6

    I have seen The Path to 9/11, and also the making-of doc Blocking The Path to 9/11. The documentary makes it quite clear that the people who made the The Path were left-leaning, and some say on camera that they thought they were making a movie that condemned the Bush Presidency. They were knocked sideways when the Clinton White Office unleashed the dogs on them.
    Taking those factors into account I would assess The Path to 9/11 as being closer to the truth than anything Mr Clinton says on the subject.

  • Youcankeepyourdoctor Period

    Why get your panties in a twist? Clinton is a psychopathic liar.